Gallinari's 31 points lead Knicks over Celtics
April 7, 2010 By ALAN HAHN
It should be considered progress that the main concern with Danilo Gallinari is no longer about his once problematic back but his enigmatic drive. And the encouraging sign there is that the hotter things get on the court, the more fiery the 21-year-old Italian gets.
His career-high 31-point performance in last night's 104-101 win over the Celtics at the Garden should be secondary to the toughness he showed in the face of attempted intimidation by one of the game's great intimidators, Kevin Garnett, who threw elbows and glares Gallinari's way.
And rather than cower from it, Gallinari seemed to thrive in it.
"When that happens, it's not good for the other team," said Gallinari, who scored 24 points in the second half to lead the Knicks (28-49).
Garnett also had a minor exchange with David Lee later in the game, but it was clear the perennial All-Star was testing Gallinari, who was called for an offensive foul early in the third quarter and inadvertently hit Garnett in the back. A few plays later, Garnett responded with an elbow that caught Gallinari in the eye.
"He was trying to play aggressive, he was trying to throw elbows on me that I wasn't really doing," Gallinari said. "He looked at me and he put an elbow on me, that's different."
It wasn't anything that directly impacted the outcome of what had been a close game throughout, but Gallinari did have a hand in that when he banked a long jumper with 36.8 seconds left to give the Knicks a 102-101 lead. After a turnover by Paul Pierce, Lee then scored against Garnett to make it a three-point lead with 7.3 seconds left.
On Boston's final possession, Rasheed Wallace could not get off a three-point attempt before the final buzzer. The Knicks were winners of consecutive games for only the third time in the 2010 calendar year. Ray Allen led the Celtics (48-29) with 17 points.
Gallinari has had run-ins with opposing star players before. Garnett elbowed him last season in a game in Boston, which Gallinari remembered. Then there was the game late last season when Gallinari accidentally elbowed Dwyane Wade, which infuriated the Heat star. Last month, Gallinari and Carmelo Anthony exchanged trash talk as they went shot-for-shot in a wild third-quarter performance that had the Garden roaring and Anthony raving about Gallinari after the game.
Notes & quotes: In a performance that came out of nowhere, D-League call-up Earl Barron, who was thrust into a starting role when Al Harrington (sore left ankle) was a late scratch, played 44 minutes and had 17 points and a career-best 18 rebounds. Lee had 13 points and 11 rebounds and struggled with his shot (6-for-16) . . . Nate Robinson had five points and five assists in 14 minutes in his first game at the Garden since he was traded on Feb. 18. The former Knicks fan favorite received a mostly polite applause before entering the game in the first quarter . . . Tracy McGrady sat out a second straight game with pain in his left thigh.